State House Republicans keep Daudt as leader

Outgoing Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt talks to reporters after his Republican colleagues elected him minority leader for the 2019 session. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Republicans in the Minnesota House have selected Kurt Daudt as their new minority leader.

The House GOP caucus voted unanimously for Daudt during a closed-door organizing meeting Friday.

Daudt served as House Speaker the past four years while Republicans were in charge. But Tuesday’s election flipped control of the House to Democrats. Daudt had a previous stint as minority leader in 2013 and 2014.

Daudt told reporters that he sees himself now as a more experienced lawmaker.

“I have grown personally and professionally quite a bit in the last six years,” Daudt said. “I known a lot more about how things work around here. I consider myself to be a very effective leader, a very effective negotiator. But I’m also somebody who has a heart and really wants to roll up my sleeves and solve the problems that Minnesotans care about.”

Daudt said he will help DFL House leaders make a smooth transition. He said he left a message for Governor-elect Tim Walz but had not yet heard back. When the session begins, House Democrats will have a 75-59 advantage, pending a recount in District 5A.

Daudt said he plans to hold Democrats accountable for campaign promises that he believes will be difficult to keep. Reflecting on the election, Daudt said the losses were unexpected and largely beyond the control of Republican candidates.

“It’s tough to comprehend,” he said. “I don’t think voters were sending us a message, personally, other than we don’t like what’s going on in Washington, DC, right now.”

Democrats on Thursday chose Rep. Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park as the next speaker of the House.

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